YouTube Music's big update makes it easier to discover new songs, improves UI

YouTube Music
YouTube Music (Image credit: Chris Wedel/Android Central)

What you need to know

  • YouTube Music has improved its radio algorithm to help you discover new artists.
  • The music streaming platform now supports shuffle play on Wear OS.
  • Adding a song to your recently modified playlist has also become much easier.
  • It has a new "For the Family" shelf with the Family mix that sits front and center on your home feed.

YouTube Music is one of the best music streaming services out there, but it's not as popular as its major competitors, such as Spotify, per Android Central's Chris Wedel. Google is now ramping up its efforts to challenge Spotify's grip on the market by introducing massive updates to the music streamer.

The service has announced that it has built new features over the past two months, with the headline improvement being the updated song radio algorithm that provides better recommendations. This change essentially allows you to discover more artists.

Hazel Satamkar, a YouTube community manager, has revealed that the service has improved "the back-end logic that nominates the music" that appears in Song Radio and playlist auto mixes. The update appears to have paid off, as there has been "an increase in likes and song discovery from these playlists."

Improved playlist experience

Adding a song to a playlist has also seen some improvements on Android and iOS devices. When you add to your playlists, a new shelf appears that displays your most recently modified playlists as well as the "Your likes" playlist beneath them. All other playlists are listed alphabetically.

Speaking of playlists, YouTube Music now lets you save a queue as a playlist on Android. This is a long-requested feature that iOS users have had for quite some time.

Shuffle play on Wear OS and song-video switcher on the web

YouTube Music now lets premium subscribers switch between video and audio mode on the web, something that was previously available only on its mobile app.

The shuffle and play feature of the service is now much more useful on smartwatches. Wear OS now allows you to shuffle play all of your downloaded tracks; previously, the music streamer only allowed you to shuffle playlists and play downloaded albums in order.

Other handy updates

YouTube Music has also added a new family shelf, which includes pre-programmed playlists and a personalized Family Mix. As a result, if you share your subscription with family members, you'll have access to a new "For the Family" shelf, with the Family mix appearing above other playlists on your home feed.

You can also now share an artist page from YouTube Music on Snapchat stories. This new feature expands on an October update that allowed you to share YouTube Music content within Snapchat. Most recently, YouTube and Snap partnered to bring visual links to your favorite YouTube videos to the Snapchat camera.

Google is also putting the Explore shelf at the bottom of the home screen, which will take you to Explore subpages like New Releases, Charts, and Moods & Genres.

There's also a new single song queue for those who prefer to listen to a single track rather than automatically starting a song radio.

Finally, YouTube Music has removed duplicates from the "Listen again" shelf, which had been a problem on smart TVs and gaming consoles.

Jay Bonggolto
News Writer & Reviewer

Jay Bonggolto always keeps a nose for news. He has been writing about consumer tech and apps for as long as he can remember, and he has used a variety of Android phones since falling in love with Jelly Bean. Send him a direct message via Twitter or LinkedIn.